Coming into this season we didn’t think David Culley was here to win football games. Nick Caserio said it himself. He wanted a ‘run through a brick wall head coach’, not a ‘Xs and Os’ head coach. Culley was here to keep spirits high, jovial and wonderful, while the Texans completed a colon cleanse of the locker room—click here to lose seven pounds with one easy step. That being said, the bare minimum wasn’t met. Insane field goals, fourth down errors, ridiculous clock management, players playing out place, a hilarious offensive scheme, strange benchings and bewildering releases, the Texans season didn’t provide many bright points to expect a better future.
Earlier this week there were rumors that Nick Caserio will explore other head coach possibilities. Caserio may decide to have the roster grow with the head coach expected to coach the next good Texans team, instead of allowing Culley to lay some cultural ground work.
With the Houston Texans at 3-11 with three games to play, and the wide variety of errors David Culley has committed, would you keep David Culley around for another season? This is the question I asked the masthead. These are their responses:
If the rumor mill is to be believed (What, Jason La Canfora is not always credible???), then David Culley may be on borrowed time. In certain respects, you can see why. He was not on anyone’s radar screen when the Texans hired him earlier this calendar year. He is 65, but never even held so much as a coordinator position in the NFL, much less been interviewed for a coaching job. The Texans have been about as bad as advertised (although I will entertain the argument that they may have overachieved in some respects...they actually won two road games when I had them going 0-fer away from NRG). What is worse is that the team, made up of mainly veteran players, has been among the league leaders in penalties and among the league’s worst in just about all other categories. Additionally, Culley appears to adhere to rules that don’t translate to discipline on the field and he may have alienated the few stars on this talent-starved squad (Tunsil, Reid). The 2021 Texans are not only bad, but incredibly boring, and with plummeting ticket sales and TV ratings, Culley would be as good a scapegoat as any (well, the root cause is not exactly him...but we know that the Texans ain’t purging themselves of the McEasterby, so...)
Then again, what did the Texans expect when they hired this guy? The team, even if by some miracle Watson still wanted to suit up and hadn’t gotten into such ugly legal trouble, was not going to be very good. He wasn’t going to channel Lombardi or even Frank Solich at Ohio. Culley was always going to be a placeholder at best, guiding a struggling, rebuilding team to a point where it could actually start thinking about the playoffs, winning big, and jettosing him for a better coaching prospect. To lay all of the failures of this season on Culley would be the art of lazy analysis and short-sighted thinking.
I think Culley has been the loyal soldier, but if the Texans are going to purge him, that is probably because they legitimately think they will get the guy they really, really want (cough, cough Josh McDaniels, cough, cough). I won’t be surprised if Culley gets a pink slip come Black Monday, but whether he goes or stays another season, or if the Texans can further recreate Patriots South, the team’s prospects for 2022 are likely not going to be that much better than 2021, no matter who sits in the head coach office.
Bringing Josh McDaniels to the Texans would be an even worse move than trying to re-create Patriots’ South with Bill O’Brien. That said, I agree with Scott that this is the most likely scenario.
The catch, for now, is that the Patriots have Mac Jones, and the Texans have a 3A junior varsity roster. If Nick and Jack want to lure McDaniels with the Siren’s call of the Patriots Way, there needs to be far more talent on the roster.
I still think Culley is your 2022 patsy for another gloriously horrible and stupid year.
It’s hard to explain what I “would” do as compared to the reality that we live in. This team doesn’t have the cachet to operate like an NFL team trying to optimize things for a run or something, they just have these self-created circumstances in which the GM and VP of Football Ops are more important than that. Which is to say: We could do a lot worse than hearing David Culley talk about horror movies for 12 more months while the rookies try to begin dragging the roster into respectable NFL team shape.
This is a no for me. I thought the Culley hire was odd from day one, and it hasn’t yielded any amazing results so far. He’s definitely not Urban Meyer, but the Texans don’t look any more hopeful or promising than they did at the beginning of the season.
Culley’s resume isn’t bad, but when you start diving in to some of the details, there are more questions than answers. To me, Culley is more of a fill-in, and would probably be better off working with a specific position (which he’s done in the past).
Had Culley installed a culture early on, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many one-and-done rumors. That’s not an easy thing to do, but a good way to start is to create a committed locker room. Get a group of guys that will fight for a full 60 minutes, and most importantly, learn from a win OR loss.
Most of that isn’t Culley’s responsibility, as it falls into the hands of GM Nick Caserio. Given the ownership situation and some drama in recent months, Houston isn’t exactly a top destination for most players, but that doesn’t mean the guys who are left don’t have talent.
Culley’s job isn’t easy, and the team is going to look a lot different in 2022. However, it doesn’t seem like he’s used all the materials at his disposal. In other words, Culley is treating 2021 like a stopover rather than the actual destination. Rebuilds take time, but as a coach, every game has to matter. If a team can’t put forward their best effort, most of the blame is going to fall on your shoulders. With Houston, it’s happened too many times this year.
An example I’ve used before is Dan Campbell. Campbell is going to be in Detroit for many years because his players believe in the system/process and want to win. With Culley, the energy just isn’t there. The Lions have a similar record to the Texans, but they’ve looked more competent and complete. Additionally, they have more pieces to build around (D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St Brown, etc.) that are young and won’t be leaving for a while. For the most part, it’s not a bunch of guys on one-year deals who are looking to prove themselves before moving on in free agency (something that typically creates selfishness).
To conclude, Culley lacks a lot of the characteristics that first-year head coaches should have. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a role with a team, but an assistant or coordinator job makes more sense for what he does.
I have two answers for this, on a personal and sports level.
On a sports fan level the answer is obviously no. He brings nothing to the team and just recently we had to reset the “weeks since David Culley learned about a fundamental thing that is done in professional football” clock to zero. He was a bad hire then, he’s a bad hire now, and if he’s still learning only remedial coaching things at this point in his career, it does not bode well for his potential as a head coach for the Houston Texans in the future. If he has some kind of insane Ted Lasso-esque arc within him, where he shows incredible potential in any phase of coaching that leads anyone to think he’s actually capable of the job, he better pull it out of his backside quick, fast, and in a hurry.
On a personal level, I would keep him around because it’s not my money being wasted keeping him on the payroll. It’s Cal’s, and as long as Jack is able to get his Cal McNair puppet to pull his wallet out to pay Culley for substandard results, then I think he should be able to stick around as long as the gravy train holds out. Because while I am a Texans fan and that part of me dies a little more each day that Jack Easterby has a parking space at NRG Stadium, I have always, ALWAYS been a strong supporter of people getting a nice fat paycheck for doing the absolute least amount of work necessary. Tricking rich stupid people out of their money is the most American thing anyone can do these days. Anyone who is able to trick them into parting with their unearned wealth has a moral obligation as an American to do so. And David Culley is, if nothing else, a damn fine American.
Kinda feel like I covered my take in yesterday’s post, but to reiterate: it’s time for Culley to move on. Nick Caserio has gutted the roster, gotten rid of most of the bloated contracts and the time to change course has arrived. The old house has been torn down, the lot has been cleared, it’s time to pour a new foundation and start building.
Culley is not, and most likely never was, part of the future. Sure he’s likable, but anyone with delusions that he’s the guy who will lead this team back to the playoffs either hasn’t been paying attention or doesn’t understand football, at all.
As mentioned above, Josh McDaniel’s name will get linked to the opening early and often. And, he might not be the guy to bring glory either, but he’s a far better coach than Culley.
Cal McNair will need to put on airs and demand someone “pay” for this season - Culley is the most logical option, since we all know Cal won’t get rid of the real problem by firing Jack Easterby.
And, if they really want to make change for change’s sake, but no viable candidate wants to captain this dumpster fire, they still have options. So, don’t be surprised if either Tim Kelly or Lovie Smith finds themselves promoted to Head “We’ve got to do a better job” Coach after carrying the interim tag the moment Culley exits NRG.
Wow there’s some surprising thoughts here. Sure, none of us were impressed with the Culley hiring. But we aren’t going to fire him just to fire him just to do this all again. He’s a part of this organization’s deconstruction process. It wouldn’t make sense to remove him out of a lack of doing anything. They know that he is working with an empty deck of cards, but they need someone who is going to be upbeat in an unbearably miserable couple of years. They obviously aren’t looking to bring in a dynamic coach to turn around the locker room. That’s not what we are equipped to do. We need to tear down, and Culley is the guy to help us do so.
The formula isn’t meant to work. It’s simply meant to not cause more drama. We can’t take any more ‘failure’, and Culley will be a pilot to get us around the bend, then we fire him to bring in someone to help build. You don’t hire a coach who is decades into his career to see the team to fame, you bring him in to cultivate a culture and pass time until a better foundation is laid for another person to step in.